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Bonani Madikizela 
 Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation appreciates citizen science  

The National Youth Water Summit hosted by the Department of Water and Sanitation from 29 June to 4 July 2014 was practical and exciting, with a lot of citizen science tools forming part of the week-long programme. The Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation, Ms Pam Tshwete joined the youth as they were assessing the quality of the water in the Modderfonteinspruit situated in Edenvale, Ekurhuleni.

As part of the week-long summit programme, the Water Research Commission (WRC) hosted two miniSASS workshops, for both in-school and out-of-school youth. Addressing the youth, the Deputy Minister emphasised the need to understand the use of these science tools and encouraged everyone to play their part in keeping rivers clean.

MiniSASS (mini-Stream Assessment Scoring System) is a citizen-science tool for monitoring the health of a river and measuring the general quality of the water in that river. It uses the composition of the community of small animals such as insects living in rivers and is based on the sensitivity of the various animal groups to water quality.

Anyone can learn how to collect a miniSASS sample on a river. Once you have collected a sample you look for the different 'bug' groups and score whether they were found.  The score then tells you the health class of the river, ranging across five categories from 'natural' to 'very poor'. 

Through WRC funding, WESSA and GroundTruth have already started investigating more citizen-science tools that will enable collaboration between professional and amateur scientists. The summit delegates were introduced to the use of some of these tools, such as checking the turbidity of water using easy-to-understand science apparatus.

Communities can play an important role in monitoring the health of our rivers, especially the youth, as the next generation, who can act today to influence the health of their environment into the future.

The results of the Modderfonteinspruit miniSASS assessment were immediately uploaded to the miniSASS map www.minisass.org for the whole world to see.

Research Manager, Bonani Madikizela email: bonanim@wrc.org.za


Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation, Ms Pam Tshwete addressing the Youth during the miniSASS field trip in Modderfonteinspruit
Summit delegates doing water tests
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